At Intellectual Ventures, we take pride in encouraging the next generation of inventors through mentorship and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. That’s why we sponsor several local conferences run by Expanding Your Horizons, a nonprofit organization committed to providing STEM workshops to middle and high school girls that spark interest in STEM activities and careers. All across the country, EYH is inspiring girls to recognize their potential and pursue opportunities in STEM. Several IV employees volunteered at local EYH conferences over the last month to present on the value of invention and innovation in STEM-related fields, and to foster a passion for STEM among local middle and high school girls.
Left: Eleanor Goodall illustrates the task to students with help from the scooter. Right: One group’s plan for a multi-terrain scooter.
To teach middle school girls about invention and patents, Eleanor Goodall and Beth Schubert, both from IV’s Invention Science Fund, got together a few years ago and devised a workshop. The colleagues have since presented ‘Invent This!’ at EYH conferences for several years running. The workshop takes the girls through the process of inventing and applying for a patent. On March 12 and April 2, Eleanor and Beth presented the hands-on workshop to middle school girls at Seattle University and Bellevue College, respectively.
During the workshop, the girls learn about the development of ideas into patents. They then split into small groups to tackle their own invention challenge, to create a unique scooter that can function on water. Finally, they evaluate their own creations as the possible basis for patent applications. Each team can interact with and study the Ski Skoot® snow toy, a scooter with ski attachments that allow it to function on snow. Eleanor and Beth also provide handouts featuring patents on scooter-like devices for reference and inspiration. Throughout the process, students learn how to work together to solve a complex problem that demands engineering solutions, draft a patent application, and present their inventions to the larger group.
Over the course of the six workshops delivered this spring, each team had its own creative approach. “Every group has a different plan of attack, but they always come away with an innovative solution,” said Eleanor Goodall. “By the end of the workshop, the girls have brainstormed unique scooter designs in response to the business and technical challenge they’ve been given, and considered whether the new ideas would qualify for patents. We’re thrilled to help spark curiosity and interest in STEM through the EYH conferences.”
IV is once again excited to have taken part in such encouraging events for girls in STEM, and we can’t wait to see what these future STEM innovators come up with next.